Innkeepers are a busy bunch. To save you time, VLA attends Governor Scott’s Covid-19 press conferences and takes notes for you. Below is the summary from 5/3/22.
Governor Scott opened his press conference with remarks in reaction to the recent indication that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. He stated that Vermont has already taken steps and is prepared to protect and preserve the fundamental rights and liberties of women in Vermont. In November, Vermonters can codify at the ballot that right in the state’s constitution.
As Scott addressed last week, demographic challenges have an impact on our workforce, schools, and economy—over the last 20 years, 65+ has increased over 40,000; 35-65 has declined by over 40,000 with not enough youth coming up to workforce; our tax base is flat or shrinking and costs are increasing. Vermont is competing for new residents. Scott says an important part of his budget is for helping to reverse this trend by supporting community revitalization, making it easier for businesses to expand, improving infrastructure, smart tax relief, and building housing stock for those here and those to attract to our state.
Encouraged by ongoing discussions with legislators on community recovery and revitalization programs. There are recoveries and investments near ready to implement with needed access to funding for municipalities, non-profits, small business—childcare, infrastructure projects, art organizations looking to rebuild post-pandemic––a plea for funding opportunity for growth and healthy communities.
There is framework for a new community and recovery and revitalization program that needs to be funded and asking legislature to restore the $100M economic development money that was in Governor’s budget. Grants awarded through this program will be well vetted, grow town tax base, and enhance opportunity for all, says Kurrle.
- Closely watching BA.2 data trends; substantially lower when compared to original Omicron surge and symptoms are typically milder
- BA.21 is much more transmissible and is expected to continue to spread and the rate may change over time
- Asses your personal risk in considering whether to mask or use other precautions (age, vaccination status, higher risk category, area where you live, and asses the risks of those around you [too young to be vaccinated, underlying health condition])
- With this changing virus, be flexible, use tools when needed, and asses personal risk and test when you have any symptoms
- Be fully vaccinated which includes having your first booster
- Recent snapshot from UVM Med. Center shows majority hospitalized due to COVID were over 65 and vaccinated but had not gotten first booster. “It is the booster that will keep you out of the hospital”
- Test positive and over 65, contact healthcare provider to discuss treatment.
- VT received its requested 2,000 Paxlovid doses yesterday; a huge increase over the 200 weekly doses we had been seeing; this means easier access to the drug and can potentially prevent more serious disease; contact healthcare provider within first five days of illness
- Avian influenza, H5N1, has been identified in VT backyard flock and wild birds; DOH working on investigating reports and monitoring people exposed—this is not a new virus, its spread is concerning but the public health risk is low.
- How are folks in your party reacting to the leak of the Supreme Court?
- The news just broke. I know how I feel but have not spoken with others outside my team; if this holds true, “it will be devastating for our rights here in the country and I think it will have a ripple effect across all areas of our civil rights.”
- Civil rights?
- It can create a mistrust in government; what’s next, what other rights can be taken away?
- A legitimate concern when you see a fundamental right taken away
- Is there more the state can do to provide access?
- Concerned about rural parts of state and addressing such equities in budget; inject funds into vulnerable communities
- On pension?
- Probably override my veto but had to take a stand
- Covid outbreaks in long-term care facilities (12) — why are we seeing this?
- Variant is so highly transmissible, but symptoms are milder and having good supply of Paxlovid available can be a game changer
- Levine: this is most vulnerable population with large number being vaccinated; not large number of cases going into hospital
- We are seeing a decoupling between cases and hospitalizations
- There is a subvariant BA.2.121 that has been seen in Vermont on last report less than 10%; immunity should be across such subvariants
- New variant showing up in other countries and scientific community is watching closely
- Where are doses of Paxlovid going?
- Levine: existing pharmacies and will expand; hospital pharmacies; long-term care stockpile
- What can you say to folks hesitate to take Paxlovid?
- Levine: very little reason to fear it; highly effective
- Will you support the Senate-amended Clean Heat Standard bill?
- It is a step in the right direction but does not do quite what we wanted it to do; PUC can design a plan and its cost, then put in bill form, debate it, and pass it on
- I would like to see the plan before signing off on it. Cost? Impact? Has moved from Senate and now in House and we will continue to work with them
- What do you see in next few years in healthcare reform?
- Will be next major issue to face; we are making some gains with Federal government on the all-payer model
- State Code of Ethics bill?
- Plan to sign that today; see no need to expand it further. Hope legislator adapts an ethics policy that fits them as well.
- How do you plan on voting for Prop 5?
- Voting for it
- You seem to have different beliefs and policy priorities from national Republican party. Have you reached point of no return?
- Admittedly the more moderate centrists are becoming fewer in each party and politics pushing to the extremes
- I am a fiscal conservative and a social moderate
- As you ponder running, consider running as Independent?
- I think I have been successful running as a moderate Republican and will continue to run as moderate centrist Republican; extremists have easy choice; middle ground has to consider both sides
- When will you announce your decision?
- Before end of session
- Can you describe some healthcare implications for women if access to abortion is denied?
- Levine: I would hate to see women have to revert to an era where things were done “in the dark” with astounding infection rates and hemorrhaging–a safe medical procedure was considered a real advance.
- Can you share your words to VT Guard troops heading to Ukraine region?
- I couldn’t be more proud; important for us to take a stand and support those in battle, a battle they didn’t ask for. We are part of an elite group, sending our F35 there; we will help your families while you are overseas
- Senator Kurrle, can you give us specifics on intended projects in rural areas?
- Kurrle: Range from childcare center jobs that will provide job growth to an area; different needs in municipality that don’t qualify in other programs
- Comm. Goldstein: projects that qualify under ARPA – childcare expansion, performing arts venues, municipality that may not have enough funding to conduct a project, help small towns bridge funding for housing and or business development
- 715 is said to be de facto a carbon-tax; will you keep your 2016 campaign promise to veto any carbon tax?
- For my support, it has to come back to us to see how it will affect us and what it’s going to cost and debate issue next session
- Have you reviewed Homeland Security plan for information governance board, and do you have an opinion on that?
- Have not seen that and can’t imagine what that might mean; we need to support free speech of Americans and protect that
- Dr. Levine, are you recommending wearing a mask in public?
- Levin: asking Vermonters to consider own personal risk – age, living situation, other health risks; consider public health guidance and personal risk tolerance
- What do you make of unvaccinated and vaccinated having similar hospitalization rates?
- Levine: perspective of percentages–– unvaccinated are smaller group in Vermont and vaccinated belong to much larger group and so proportionately vaccinated are faring much better
- Can you understand why some Vermonters may have concerns about meeting climate obligations and your administration not supporting TCI and now with the Clean Heat Standard?
- TCI – we didn’t oppose it, we had a seat at the table; wanted to see details, benefits, and cost; it literally fell apart
- Clean Heat Standard – yes, want to move forward but again want to see the details; it’s important that it comes back so legislature and executive branch can weigh in
- What is the funding gap between $100M and where legislature is now, and consequences to rural corner if funding isn’t provided?
- I think we will see continued stagnation in rural areas; asking for $40M to complete some of the projects we put forward
- How many Vermonters have had COVID more than once?
- Levine: since beginning about 100; Delta and then Omicron about 5; not frequent but possible
- Long-term COVID cases?
- Levine: collecting data but don’t have enough data and need more time to elapse